There’s a question I often get asked that isn’t related to protein (yes, it’s true): Do you have any tips on becoming vegan?
It’s a tricky question because it’s different for everyone. For instance, I became vegetarian overnight and never looked back but I took 2 years to transition between vegetarianism and veganism. Why? Well, I always knew I’d become vegetarian as I never liked meat. My mum even told me that it really didn’t surprise her. Going vegan was different. I may not have liked eggs by themselves but they’re tasteless in so many things, such as cake and pie. I loved cheese… I really did. As for dairy in general, it’s in so many things that I didn’t even know where to start. Before considering veganism, I was one of many who said: “I could never be vegan”. Now look at me: 10 years after making the decision to live a cruelty-free life, I have never looked back. So… How did I do it? It started with a book I read called “Skinny Bitch” by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, which completely changed my life. No, it’s not only about losing weight… although it might help if that’s your goal. It’s all about exactly what we drink and eat… What’s in our food? Who regulates it? And let me tell you, it really scared me! From the time I had finished a few chapters, my decision was made: vegan was the way for me.
Here are my tips:
1. One step at a time
Basically, learn to walk before running. It usually doesn’t happen overnight. I took my time by slowly cutting products out of my diet. For example, instead of having cheese 4 times a week, I cut down to 3 times a week for the first 2 months, then twice a week for the following 2 months, etc. Instead of buying dairy yogurt, I went for the coconut or soya versions which are easy to find and really taste delicious. I started doing one vegan day a week for the first 2 months, gradually increasing to being vegan 5 days a week but still allowing myself dairy at weekends. All in all, it took me about 2 years to achieve my goal but when I got there, I was a very happy and content vegan. My body wasn’t craving what I was no longer eating, which is a big part of the battle.
2. Focus on the big steps
Focus on the big changes in your diet: cutting meat, eggs and dairy. Don’t worry about becoming a health guru overnight. Just by stopping your consumption of these, you will see some health improvements. I didn’t start buying fresh, local, organic and making my own cheese right away as this takes times. You will have to slowly ease into new cooking habits, new shopping style and new food. Don’t sweat the big stuff right away: give yourself time.
3. Surround yourself with supportive like-minded people
To this day, I still don’t have vegan friends where I live. However, I have an amazing group of vegan friends online and a very supportive husband. He is not vegan himself but he has been vegetarian for now 7 years! At home, he eats vegan with the exception of cheese. When we eat out, he will occasionally have eggs but he tries to avoid that as much as possible. Who knows, maybe he eventually will decide to ditch cheese like he ditched the rest… But I will not push him.
I strongly recommend finding groups online and get support from there. There are no stupid questions and most people will be happy to support you in your transition.
This being said, feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if you would like some group suggestions from me.
4. Do some research
There are so many superfoods you can add to your diet when vegan that it can be overwhelming. Don’t go and buy everything you read about as you’ll find you won’t be using half of it. Read about it all and choose what you think will work for you and integrate it to your diet. Ask questions and educate yourself. My personal staples are: chia seeds (whole and ground), hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, spirulina, maca powder and protein powder. Flax seeds is also something most vegans use but as I’m allergic to it, I stick to chia seeds. 😉
I buy different things occasionally but these items are always available in my kitchen.
5. Stay strong
You will face adversity. Heck, I still do 10 years later! Know about veganism and if people question you, tell them about your reasons. Your family might disagree with your choices and even make fun of it (again, I speak from experience). Don’t be pushy and don’t answer with anger (I’m talking from experience here). Be patient, educative and confident in your beliefs. Bring your own food (with extra) to gatherings at first and you will see that people will want to try some… And the jokes will eventually become fewer and fewer. Two most important words: stay strong.
6. Be Adventurous
There is so much to discover when going vegan! Try a bit of everything, buy books, read online, broaden your horizons. Many dietary traditions in the world are already plant-based, so you can freely base yourself on these at the beginning. Asian food is a very good place to begin!
7. The Secret is in the Sauce
Or the marinade… The secret to loving tofu, tempeh and all the delicious vegan options is to learn how to prepare them. Play with marinades, sauces, spices… The sky is the limit. You’ll have fun and your taste buds will thank you! There are many amazing vegan blogs out there so the possibilities are limitless.
8. Do it for yourself, your beliefs
The most important question to ask yourself when going vegan is: “Am I doing this for myself and my beliefs?’. Why? Because that’s over half the battle there. Veganism has become a lot more mainstream over the past few years, with celebrities embracing the lifestyle and talking about it freely. Don’t get me wrong, I am VERY happy about this. However, following a trend without really believing in it is making it a lot harder to fully commit. Now, if you’re a fan of Miley Cyrus and her veganism has convinced you to really look into it and has changed your view of the world, then it’s all good. The more vegans there are, the better it is for the world!
I didn’t know any vegans when I decided to follow that path… I read a lot about it, watched a few documentaries and joined online groups. I made the decision for my health, the animals and the planet. To this day, these 3 reasons are still driving me.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me. I will answer what I can and guide you in the right direction for the rest.
A good vegan blogger friend of mine is a Functional Nutritionist and is a true goldmine of information. She has also recently published a post with her own tricks on how to be vegan…. A petty interesting read! Here’s her page, where you can read all about the services she offers: V Nutrition and Wellness
Have a wonderful 2019!